Ask Yourself Three Questions Before Jumping Industries

Your industry is hurting or even hemorrhaging, or maybe it looks as though it may be impacted soon. Given the mass furloughs that have occurred over the last four weeks, which have resulted in over 17 million people filing for unemployment, many are questioning their current positions, their potential prospects, and the impact Covid-19 will have on their industries. However, a rash decision and quick industry switch may not be the best choice. Reflect on the three questions below before you determine if a pivot in your career is necessary.

Is your industry facing permanent setbacks?

If your motivation for changing industries is due to the current crisis, ensure you are making a strategic decision for your long-term career success. Before you jump ship, determine if the problems your industry is facing are likely to be resolved quickly once the current crisis is mitigated.

Your current market may recover. Consider if the recent circumstances represent a longer term trend or if the downturn for your industry is temporary. While no one has a crystal ball, most see the leisure travel industry as experiencing a comeback down the line, potentially with pent up demand as soon as the market opens up. The surge in luxury buying recently experienced within China represents as example of that trajectory.

On the other hand, Covid-19 may have permanently accelerated a trend towards remote work, so if your present career revolves around the commercial office space industry, you may want to  consider that the rapid changes that have occurred, may in truth represent a permanent shift.

Conducting a job search with the intent to change industries is more challenging from a preparation point of view, and it may also be more challenging within the marketplace, but if the current job market is dismal within your industry, you may have no choice on a temporary basis.

Have you been unhappy in your industry?

Do you feel dissatisfied in your current industry? Have you been thinking about a new challenge anyway? If you felt restless before the crisis, then it may be a great time to consider switching.

Many recruiters who work for companies within surging industries as a result of the crisis have begun to look outside their present industry because their demands are so high. They understand there is an incredible amount of talent that is unemployed or may be considering switching industries right now. They are more open to talent outside their industry than ever, so take advantage of this more “open” marketplace.

Is there a new industry that fits your skills today?

If you have decided to change industries, ask yourself “what industries need my skills today?”  Where does your experience and skills match industry need outside of your present industry? Once you have identified best fit,  determine as best as you can, what are the short and long term projections for the new industry? Don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire. For instance, your skills in the hospitality landscape may fit the retail landscape. But will the hospitality industry recover faster than the retail landscape? Is the current market really a longer term trend? You may need to do that analysis on a company by company basis.

If your experience and skills are not transferable today, further training and preparation, or a half career step may be necessary. If you can stay employed in your present industry until you are prepared to make the switch, then you should consider staying put.


Founded in 2001, Waterman Hurst is a professional services company that provides strategic job and board search services to leaders. We serve CEOs, C-Suite executives, Next Level Executives, and Advancing Leaders who want to transform their careers. We are the first company to provide B2C high end, high touch comprehensive job and board search services exclusively to leadership clients – we provide expertise in branding, strategy, coaching and serve as agents for top talent.

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